Page:Historical Lectures and Addresses.djvu/260

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tion failed; men were helpless because they did not clearly know what was expected of them. The tide of the Danish invasion ebbed and flowed, and there was but a vague sense of national resistance. When Edward came to the throne, he was amongst a people suffering from bewilderment. Their hearts were ready, but their heads were at fault. They were true patriots, and nourished a vigorous national life; but they knew not how to display their patriotism. They had long been destitute of leaders in whom they could trust. The motives of the chief men of this time are hopelessly perplexing, as we do not know enough of the conditions of the time to attempt to explain them. But we see that their motives were mainly personal, and rested upon no clear conception of the public welfare. In fact men asked themselves the question, What is the future of England to be? And they had no clear answer to give. The common folk were without guidance. They wished to live their lives in peace, in the old way; but they had no sense of security and no outward assurance of stability. The lack of "rede," or counsel, was attached as an epithet to the ill-fated Ethelred. England found itself in the hands of a Danish conqueror, it scarcely knew how or why; and though it enjoyed peace and prosperity under his rule, it was not happy. Canute's death brought a renewal of the divisions, the treachery, and the self-seeking which had become too sadly familiar. When the last of the Danes passed away England turned again, with an enthusiasm which sprang from despair, to its old royal house, and welcomed Edward back from exile.